Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Making decisions...

Before summer the children had challenged us on many occaisions as to why adults made the decisions and that they felt they should be making more... no matter how hard we talked and explained, and seemd to come to some understanding that we as adults make the decisons when it comes to safety and well-being, but that the decsions about the activities and what we do is all based on the children's interests and observations of their play, and listening to what they have to say to us.

But the constant challenging seemed to imply that this was not really working... we had to find a new way of letting the children see just how much they influenced what we do during our days at preschool... so we are experimenting and challneging the children in their thinking about decision-making.

We have designed out week a little differently... and I need to start with a Friday... because it actually starts and ends here...

On Fridays we have added an extra meeting called reflection and planning meeting... where we reflect on what we have been doing during the week (a great way for our little groups to share with each other when we have done different things too) and then based on these reflections the children then make a decision as to how to explore deeper something that has facinated them during the week.

Last week some of the children had used public transport and had seen the communter trains... they expressed a desire to explore transport more, especially the commuter trains... I told them that the reflection/planning meeting would be an ideal time to bring up that suggestion...

SO.... last Friday at the reflection meeting it turned out no-one wanted to plan... except for one child... they would rather play quietly at the other side of the room. I asked them if they were sure they wanted to leave the decision in the one remaining child's hands... they said yes, I asked would they accept the decisions that this child made... yes they all said. I asked one more time to make sure... No the children did not want to make any decisions they wanted to play.

So for the 5-10 minutes left before lunch one child decided what we would do the following Monday morning. Four children would explore public transport and the commuter trains (well she said go on them) and the rest of the group would play fairies on the suburban square just outside the preschool.

Later in the day when the children found out about the decision they were many regrets... they were reminded that they said they would accept the decision, and that next Friday maybe it would be a good idea to be a part of the planning meeting.

Yesterday four children went on public transport... and that is all we did (although I did plan a trip that took us on the underground train, then a tram, then a boat, then a bus, then the underground train, then the commuter train, then a tram and then the underground train back to preschool... quite an adventure...) but by the time we got on the bus the children started to ask "are we there yet?" and I said, "but this is what was planned... a journey, there was no destination planned". I wanted to challenge the children's thinking... that if they are making decisions and making plans they have to start taking responsibility for them... that it is not always easy to make a plan, and that maybe sometimes a bit of thinking is required... and collective thinking is probably a good idea, where the children can inspire each other...
in some areas of the Stockholm underground train it does go over ground... where the preschool is located it is above ground. The above images show the signs of the stations/stops we were at... and the underground train (tunnelbana) the tram (well one of the lines) the free boat connecting to the south island (Södermalm) and lastly the commuter train.

When we returned to the preschool the child that planned got a few angry comments from her friends... again we reminded that it was of their own choosing not to participate in the planning. The children were given the opportunity to learn that planning to please everyone is not an easy thing to do, and that to be satisfied with a  decision you need to listen and actively participate in the decision making. If you do not listen, you do not know what you are agreeing or disagreeing with...

I am now looking forward to Friday to see how the children will react... will they live for the moment and play... or will they want to invest some of their time to make plans with us?


  1. i guess they forget about plans. Children live in the moment.

    1. we will see tomorrow... Friday arrives once more... will the children WANT to make plans or not... or is living in the moment more important.

      I am excited to find out...